Beechcraft has formally exited Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection with a new name, a new ownership structure controlled primarily by four major shareholders, a new board of directors and a balance sheet that has shed $2.5 billion in debt.
The company – formerly known as– on Feb. 1 received court approval for its joint plan of reorganization that transferred ownership from investors Onex Corp. and Goldman Sachs to its major creditors in exchange for eliminating the $2.5 billion in debt. The plan became effective Feb. 15, and the company officially announced itself as Beechcraft on Feb. 19, ending the bankruptcy protection process that began May 3.
The former debt holders own a little more than 90% of the company, with the four major shareholders being Centerbridge Partners; Angelo, Gordon & Co.; Sankaty Advisors; and Capital Research & Management.
The senior management of the former Hawker Beechcraft carries over into the new company with the exception of Steve Miller, the corporate turnaround specialist who joined a year ago as CEO. Miller will hold an advisory capacity with the new board. Bill Boisture, who held the title of chairman of Hawker Beechcraft Corp., is now CEO of Beechcraft. Robert Johnson, the former head ofAerospace, is the chairman of the Beechcraft board.
As part of the bankruptcy, Onex and Goldman Sachs lose most of their investment in the company. They also were bond holders, and they received “pennies on the dollar” for those bonds, similar to other unsecured creditors, Boisture says.
Beechcraft emerges as a smaller company, with employee numbers in Kansas dipping below the 4,000 level that the company guaranteed in order to receive full state and local incentives. Its total employment is around 5,400. The company has a smaller product portfolio, focused on military trainer/special mission aircraft, pistons and turboprops. The jet lines closed down last year, and the company has since sold its remaining inventory of new production aircraft. Beechcraft hoped to find suitors for the jet lines, but had put that search on the backburner in recent months to focus on finishing the bankruptcy process, Boisture tells Aviation Week.
While smaller, he notes, “Beechcraft has emerged from this process a stronger company with both financial and operational strength and stability.”
The company closed on $600 million in exit financing, including a $425 million term loan facility and a $175 million revolving facility. The term loan helped repay a debtor-in-possession credit facility, along with certain settlements that were part of the reorganization plan. J.P. Morgan Securities LLC and Credit Suisse Securities (USA) were the lead arrangers of the financing.
As for the jet lines, the company will weigh several options, and Boisture says some parties have expressed interest. Any number of scenarios could result – from a support organization buying the lines to maintain the existing fleet, to a manufacturing operation buying the lines to bring them back into production.
While the company dropped certain warranty and guaranteed support programs for the jet lines, it still will maintain those aircraft and has a stock of parts.
During the Chapter 11 process, the company closed three of its service centers, but still has a network of 10 facilities in the U.S., Mexico and the U.K. Its Global Customer Support unit additionally is continuing to work on programs that include the Hawker 400XPR and 800XPR upgrades.
Regarding its existing product lines, Boisture concedes that the bankruptcy process had shaken some of the confidence of potential customers – particularly after the decision to cancel certain warranties on the jet lines. But confidence improved as the company came closer to exiting the bankruptcy process.
This is particularly true in the special mission/military trainer markets, Boisture adds. Beechcraft departs bankruptcy protection just days before the U.S. Air Force is slated to announce a decision on the rebid of its Light Air Support contract. Beechcraft is offering its AT-6 single turboprop for the contract. That decision announcement, originally expected in January, is now scheduled for Feb. 22.